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United States
DateApril 11, 2024
ByBrenna Terry
SectorHealth & Wellness
Reading time3mins

Elevating Humanity in Healthcare: Challenges and Opportunities

At Hill & Knowlton (H&K), we have a front-row seat to breathtaking advancements in healthcare as we partner with leading pharma, biotech, health tech, consumer health, and hospital and provider leaders who are operating at the intersection of science and technology. Despite this record pace of innovation, serious challenges remain in the way patient care is delivered and accessed. 

Brenna Terry, MBA, Global Chair of Healthcare

"Humanity lapses" plague the healthcare journey

Regardless of whether you are a patient, caregiver, family member, or healthcare professional, new research from H&K’s Healthcare and Intel & Tech teams revealed a collective sentiment among U.S. adults across all ages: They are feeling a profound loss of humanity in their interactions within the healthcare system. Through surveying 1,000+ individuals and reviewing a decade's worth of peer-reviewed literature, our research uncovered significant “humanity lapses” across the healthcare continuum. This is just as dire for patient well-being as it is for health outcomes.

Breaking down the findings

We explored the “warring duality” between technology advancements and the human element in medicine, with the former threatening to eclipse the latter. Even the digitally savvy Generation Z reports not being treated humanely by the healthcare system, suggesting that prioritizing compassionate care is paramount, irrespective of age or technological familiarity. Indeed, while the media focuses on the rising cost of care and medicine, most respondents valued active listening, respect, and clear communication over financial considerations as trademarks of a more humane healthcare experience. 

Charting a course for change

Importantly, these survey results are not a critique of healthcare providers, but rather reflect broader challenges across the healthcare system, such as increasing patient loads, limited resources, and workforce shortages.   

And as I personally think about the decline in humanity in healthcare, alongside the extensively reported rise in loneliness across the nation, it occurs to me that the last place you want to feel alone is when you’re confronting a health issue and coming up against a lack of human connection in the healthcare system. We must address this challenge.   

Strategies for rekindling compassionate care

Looking ahead, we can elevate the humanity in healthcare by acknowledging humanity deficits without blame, amplifying voices of all ages and cultures, and championing human-centric design in technology. 

Join us in elevating the humanity in healthcare

I invite you to read the entire report and share your opinions. As health communicators, let's catalyze conversations to restore the heart and soul of healthcare. It's time to bridge the gap between technology and empathy, forging a future where humanity thrives in every medical encounter.

Click here to read the full report.